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Posted On: 7 January 2020 03:39 pm
Updated On: 3 March 2020 12:01 pm

Qommunity Voices: Green Maasai Troupe - volunteering and showcasing Kenyan culture in Qatar

Darlene
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You may have seen them performing traditional Kenyan dances with their colorful Maasai garments in events like the recently concluded FIFA Club World Cup 2019 but Green Maasai Troupe is more than a performing group.

Founded in 2011 by Zacchaeus Njuguna (Managing Director and Co-Founder) and Peter Muturi Kimani (Operations Manager and Co-Founder), the African cultural group is a representation of various tribes of Kenya here in Qatar.

The popular Kenyan community volunteer group is made up of a delightful group of compassionately individuals working and based here in Qatar. From two, the group grew to more than a hundred individuals who devote much of their time for charitable, unpaid/voluntary, philanthropic, safety and environmental conservation, and various awareness campaigns such as Cancer, Diabetes, HIV & AIDs, and Road Safety.

The group's vision is helping to transform the community to lead a healthy, quality life and promoting human welfare while its mission is to change the society to seek ways to preserve the environment.

Image credit: Green Maasai Troupe

ILQ was able to reach out to one of Green Maasai Troupe's founders and get insights on how Green Maasai Troupe started their journey and what they are doing for Qatar's community. Here is what we learned:

ILQ: Please tell us more about Green Maasai Troupe.

Peter: All members work individually in various companies across Qatar. The majority of us are in low-income jobs ranging from House helps, Janitors, Security, Administrative Assistants, Technicians, Drivers, Customer care, Supervisors, Sales. The group accommodates all age groups including children. The members’ age group range from as young as 7 years to 50 Years of age. The group is made up of mixed gender ratio of male to female 2:1 respectively.

The majority of the members (70%) are based in the capital city – Doha and the surrounding regions. The rest 30% are evenly distributed across the country and some outside the country – International GMT Ambassadors – USA – Yvonne Kadir, UAE – Jane Njeru Kinyua, KENYA – Beatrice Mbuthia.

From left: GMT Managing Director Zacchaeus Njuguna; Kenya Ambassador to Qatar H.E Amb. Patrick C.O. Ahenda (also GMT – PATRON) with GMT MD Zacchaeus Njuguna; and Peter Kimani - GMT Co-Founder and Operations Manager

GMT is under the patronage of H.E Patrick C.O Ahenda – The Ambassador of Kenya to Qatar and also the GMT Patron who has also given us the platform at the Embassy of Kenya to do our workshops as well as dance practices and also a place to conduct our meetings. The top officials are mainly considered as Community Leaders in Qatar who represent worker’s issues related to labor.

Here are the group's other initiatives:

  • Environment Conservation – Beach cleaning, Turning Waste into Art
  • Prosthetic Limp Campaign
  • Spreading various ailments Awareness Campaigns
  • Humanitarian Activities (especially Food Distribution during Ramadan – Sahour)
  • Charity Works - Green Maasai plays a major role in charity works where we collect various household items i.e. used clothing and send them to Kenya for the less fortunate families and orphans.
  • First Aid Activities - A good number of the group members are equipped with first Aid skills and make efforts in voluntary activities across Qatar to offer this service free of charge especially in outdoor activities.
  • Music performance & Acrobatic activities as part of entertainment. - African-Kenyan Cultural dance Performances as well as enlightening and sharing with the rest of the world about the rich culture of the African continent as well as learning and incorporating with the Qatari Culture
  • Observing the United Nations Events Calendar (SDGs 17 Sustainable Development Goals)
  • Visiting the Sick through our Hospital Missions - As a dedicated team, we have Hospital Missions every month; Volunteering twice to visit the sick in different hospitals here in Qatar.

These humanitarian undertakings have impacted many lives by giving them hope for the future. These activities reduce the gap between the sick and the healthy by coming together as one in love and unity.

GMT is a registered group and recognized by the Kenyan Embassy In Qatar and several other prominent agencies and organizations across the region.

RELATED: Interesting facts about the Kenyan community in Qatar

ILQ: How long has it been since Green Maasai Troupe was launched in Qatar and how has the group’s journey been so far?

Peter: It has been 9 years since foundation. GMT was founded in the year 2011.

It has not been that easy at all. You know many expatriates come here for work, get paid, and focus on their lives back to their country of origin. Therefore, convincing someone to take part in voluntary activities is like hitting a wall with your fist. It was not easy at all and still, it is not.

The first question you get from a new member who is still contemplating whether to join or not is usually; ‘How much is the salary?’ Now that is a hard question to answer every time you are asked.

Image credit: Green Maasai Troupe

Members join and leave after a certain period of time. This is entirely based on their contractual agreement with their companies. Some have a critical time schedule at work and cannot manage to attend all activities. Some have resigned along the way which means leaving the country for good. The number of members fluctuates time in time out as we move on.

In fact, maintaining such a dance team and weekly practices requires a lot of coordination and planning. Initially, for quite a long time, we used to meet at Al Arabi Stadium Park. This happened during the summer and winter season for almost 8 years until the new Ambassador came in and gave us facilitation. The spirit of humanitarian was indeed on tested, the members were unstoppable such that hot weather and extreme winter seasons were not a hindrance at all.

ILQ: When did you know you wanted to take up this line of work?

Peter: Well, the majority of people got excited about what we started. It did not stop there, the media houses covered most of our stories and it was all over the news and the reception that we received from the community inspired us to keep moving and we finally decided to make it part of our weekly activity.

ILQ: What most often inspires your journey as a volunteer and as one who spreads awareness about necessary topics in the community?

Peter: Well, the inspiration comes from nature and the environment that we are currently living in. You will find that most of the things that we do are unique and seems impossible to be done in a foreign country as many take it. Being the first and the only Kenyan group in the Gulf region to set aside time from our contractual work and engage in humanitarian activities boosts our morale and makes us want to move forward and do it repeatedly.

Image credit: Green Maasai Troupe

ILQ: Why do you love what you do?

Peter: Well, apart from GMT bringing us together, it is a home away from home and its a good place to display every member’s creativity and personal growth. It is a platform where the gap between homeland and here brought into reconciliation and everybody feels happy at the end of the activities. The other most important thing is conserving and making sure that the place we are working and living at the moment is safe for us and generations to come.

ILQ: What do you feel makes GMT’s work unique?

Peter: GMT is a voluntary group and that sets it aside in a unique way. It makes us feel more responsible especially when it comes to issues related to humanity and environment conservation. We work based on a famous Swahili quote that says ‘Tenda Wema Nenda Zako’, which translates to ‘Do well and go without expecting to be rewarded.’ This motivates us to do every activity with passion and humility.

Incorporating the cultural dance performance in the group makes us feel at home thousands of miles away from home. It also plays a major role in creating a positive environment where the majority of our youths find alternative ways of spending their time after work instead of engaging in illegal activities like alcoholism and drug abuse.

Image credit: Green Maasai Troupe

ILQ: What is the group’s biggest achievement so far?

Peter: The group is widely famous across all cities in Qatar and majorly well known by the Kenyan community. Various institutions have recognized the exceptional performance of the group not limited to:

Kenya Embassy to Qatar (which acts as a host & Patron), Qatar Red Crescent Society, American School of Doha, Supreme Committee of Delivery & Legacy, Qatar Petroleum, Hamad Medical Corporation – Rumaila Hospital, Qatar Cancer Society, Katara Cultural Village, Qatar Balloons Festival (QBF), 24th Arabian Gulf Cup, FIFA Club World cup, Qatar Green Building Council, Al Shaqab, Karwa Bus Service, Qatar Table Tennis, IAAF World Athletic Championship, Diamond Leagues, Al Baladna, National Center for Cancer Care and Research, and Qatar Foundation for the Akhlaquna Award.

The group was privileged to be shortlisted among the activities that meet the Akhlaquna Initiative at Qatar Foundation which focuses on these moral values: Generosity, Mercy, Honesty, Tolerance. It was voted top 3 countrywide. In addition, the Maker Space Event at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, which was actually a breakthrough and made us win the UN – 17 SDGs PEACE AWARD Trophy.

Image credit: Green Maasai Troupe

GMT has also achieved to meet some of the prominent persons in and out of the country as listed below: H.H. Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser Al Missned (Chairperson of The Qatar Foundation, Education Above All, Silatech), Former & Current Ambassador of Kenya to Qatar (H.E Galma Boru & H.E Patrick C.O Ahenda Respectively), Kenya’s Deputy Head of Mission to Qatar Amb. Washington Oloo, Kenya’s CS - Cabinet Secretary of Sports & Cultural Heritage – Amb. Dr. Amina C. Mohammed. Hon. David Ole Sankok Nominated Member of Parliament & Chairman of NCPWD – Persons with Disabilities, Members of Parliament Tom Mboya Odege (Nyatike), Mama Hellen Sankok & Honorable Safia Sheikh Adan, Buko Women Representative Marsabit County - Kenya, and Kenya’s Minister of Tourism – Hon. Najib Balala.

ILQ: What do you think of the volunteering scene in Qatar?

Peter: To be honest, with the extreme weather in the country, it is not easy to participate especially during the summer season. Safety is our utmost priority for our members. We encourage members to observe their safety by fighting heat stress through the various adopted measures such as carrying water along and keeping away from the direct sun and to reduce the direct sun exposure.

The support we get from the various organizations that act as hosts also plays a big role in ensuring that everyone is safe. Qatar is a country where these types of activities are highly valued and respected. Having the entire team to participate becomes an enjoyable moment and everyone feels happy at the end of the day.

Image credit: Green Maasai Troupe

ILQ: How do you balance, home, work, and GMT activities?

Peter: Well, it is not an easy task since all of us are on contractual jobs and everyone has to meet the employer’s requirements at the end of the day. In order to get the number of volunteers let say 20 for a specific event, out of 100 members only those who are off duty on that particular day will be representing the entire team and the rotation goes on and on.

ILQ: What are the group's interests, besides volunteering and helping people?

Peter: Apart from volunteering and helping people, we also engage in entertainment activities, which entails highlighting our African cultural dances, which actually does very well. It’s a separate department led by the Entertainment Manager – Francis Kuria; who ensures the community gets to taste the actual African scene on stage.

The costume department also works along to ensure that we get the cultural dresses from Africa in order to align well with the cultural songs. We also have a Welfare and Talent Development Department that works so well to identify and recognize various talented members in the group and find ways to develop and nurture it to best benefit the individual.

Image credit: Green Maasai Troupe

ILQ: What’s next for you and Green Maasai Troupe?

Peter: We as Green Maasai, aim to have an African Community Center where we can have a facility that can accommodate various activities not limited to: voluntary activities, workshops, and exchange programs with other expatriates (this involves various nationalities exchanging their way of life and in the end be able to learn how other communities back in their countries do things). This will enhance understanding and collaboration towards the goals of sustainable development.

We aspire to have a complete set of an official team that can be directly employed in the organization and is able to actively do the administration and coordination of the activities across the country. This is because of the rising number of participants and the volumes of requests received for participation in various organizations.

ILQ: Do you have any message for the people of Qatar?

Peter: First, we thank Qatar for giving us an opportunity to freely exercise such activities and ensuring that we are safe at all times. Secondly, thanks to all our fans who am sure since 2011, the snapshots that are taken from various events are still in your homes. We welcome donors, sponsors, supporters, and people of goodwill who feel that what we do is influencing the lives and contributing to making the world a better place. You are all welcome.

If you would like to get in touch with Green Maasai Troupe, check out the following channels:

Website: Green Maasai Troupe

Facebook: @greenmaasaitroupe

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